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Pak army beyond criticism: Minister

india Updated: Oct 16, 2006 13:23 IST

Pakistan's Information and Broadcasting Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani has warned the media "in a threatening tone" against criticising the army, reports here said.

Declaring that the armed forces were sacrosanct, the minister cited the country's 1973 statute that has been amended and suspended frequently and is observed only partially.

"According to the Constitution, any criticism on the solidarity of Pakistan and its armed forces is not allowed," he said Sunday while speaking at an iftar dinner hosted by him in Karachi.

The high profile minister and President Pervez Musharraf's spokesperson on many a political issue said the government would not allow any criticism of the armed forces of Pakistan "as the institutions responsible for the country's defence are beyond any criticism".

"In a threatening tone, the minister made it clear that the government would not tolerate any criticism on the solidarity of Pakistan and the institutions responsible for defending the country's geographical boundaries," The News International said.

Durrani, however, welcomed all criticism of the government and said positive criticism by the media provided ample opportunity to the government to correct itself.

When asked how criticism of the army could be avoided especially when it was virtually governing the country, he reluctantly said the government welcomed all positive criticism.

Replying to a question about highlighting corruption in organisations being controlled by the armed forces, he said: "No individual is beyond accountability."

Newspaper reports have said Durrani held forth last week as well when he interacted with senior editors and other journalists at Musharraf's iftar party. Only a select few journalists were allowed to ask questions.

He was at "his eloquent best" in praising his leader, said The Nation.

It said Musharraf's media interaction was "a tame affair for some", in that the president, "with an international bestseller" and many appearances on American TV, took questions from persons picked by Durrani "in a take-it-or-leave it manner".